Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the false graft allegation over Padma Bridge Project has not only tarnished our image, it also upset the country’s GDP growth.
The construction work of the Padma Bridge would be finished a year earlier and the country's GDP growth would have reached 8 percent if the construction work could have been started in due time, the premier also assumed.
The Prime Minister made the observations in her introductory speech during the weekly Ecnec meeting held at the NEC conference room in the capital. The Prime Minister presided over the meeting as Ecnec Chairperson.
"The country has already achieved 7.11 percent GDP growth in the last fiscal year and if we could have started the work on Padma Bridge in due time its works would have been completed by the time adding around another 1 percent GDP growth. By now, our GDP growth could have reached 8 percent and that possibility was foiled," she said.
Noting that Bangladesh has now emerged as a 'role model' of development worldwide, she said her government has brought Bangladesh into a respectable position and all the allegations brought against her government proved to be false.
"Those who were active to deter the pace of development and also worked against her government were also proved wrong and it's now internationally proved," she added.
Hasina said following the false allegation of corruption raised by the World Bank over the Padma Bridge project, a Secretary to the government (then Bridges Division Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan) had to remain in jail and nothing could be more disgraceful for him than this.
Mosharraf Hossain is now the Senior Secretary to the Ministry of Industries.
"A false allegation has unleashed so many attacks in the life of that person…he had to waste valuable time of his life and he was also deprived of serving the country," she said adding that all should remain cautious so that such sad incidents do not reoccur in the future.
The Prime Minister said her party did not assume office to make its own fortunes but to build the fate of common people. "But, making false allegation, without any reason, I think, there's another reason behind it."
Without mentioning the name of Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus, she said since it was against the interest of one particular individual, Padma Bridge, which is regarded as country's one of the valuable projects for the development of western region, had to be stopped for a while.
Renewing her call to all related to project implementation process, Hasina asked government officials and all other stakeholders to discharge their duties sincerely and efficiently so that Bangladesh can become as a mid-income country by 2021.
She also hoped that the march forward of the country will continue.
Earlier on Friday, a Canadian court acquitted two former officials of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and a Bangladeshi-Canadian businessman of the charge of planning to bribe Bangladeshi officials to secure a consultancy contract in the Padma Bridge project, in which the World Bank was its lead financier.
The bridge's work got stalled after the lead financier suspended its funding in October 2011 raising corruption allegations. The other lenders followed suit.
The WB earlier submitted the first report to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on September 21, 2011. Based on the report, the government suspended project director Rafiqul Islam on October 9 and transferred former Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan on October 13.